Obit: Gates, James Leslie (1850 - 1911)


Contact: Ann Stevens



Surnames: MacBride, Gates, Hewett, Eyerley, Peterson, Mead, MacDonald, Tischer, Tolford, Dewhurst, Sturdevant, Jenkins, Hendren, Minor, O’Neill, Root, Hemphill, Snyder, Bruley, Stange


----Source:  Neillsville Times (Neillsville, Clark County, Wis.)  Aug 31, 1911


Gates, James Leslie (Dec 22, 1850 - Aug 25, 1911)


There was buried on Monday last from the residence of his sister and brother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. R.J. MacBride, all that was mortal of James L. Gates.

Daniel Gates, his father, was a direct descendent of General Horatio Gates, one of the American Generals who was with Washington during the war of the Revolution.


Daniel Gates, the father of the deceased, was born in Essex County, New York, on the 11th day of July, 1818, and came to Wisconsin, settled at the mouth of Wedges Creek, on Black River, in the year 1856, engaging in the business of hotel-keeping and lumbering.


When the elder Gates came to Wisconsin, his family consisted of his wife, formerly Mrs. Jane Hewett, and three children, Addie J., now the wife of Ex-senator MacBride, James L., the subject of this article, and Charles H., the former and the latter both still living at Neillsville.  After his residence in Clark County there was born to Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Gates, Edwin, deceased at the age of five years, another son, named also Edwin, still living, and Nellie Marion Gates, the last named dying at Neillsville on the 5th day of November, 1895, and was buried from the same house that her brother was buried from on Monday last.


James Leslie Gates was born at Minerva Essex County, New York, on the 22nd day of December, 1850, and came with his parents from New York (after a short residence in Iowa) to Clark County, Wisconsin in 1856.


He obtained the ordinary limited education, that was accessible at the district school in what was then almost a wilderness, but he obtained, perhaps, a larger, broader and greater education, in the forests that surrounded him, often traveling and camping in the woods with his father, when in quest of lands or timber.


Mr. Gates was first married to Miss Lydia Eyerley at Neillsville, Wis., in the year 1872,  By this marriage, Mr. Gates had several children, two now living, Robert Leslie Gates of Milwaukee and Edith Gates, now Edith T. Peterson, the wife of Dr. Fred Peterson, of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin.


Some years after the death of his first wife, Mr. Gates in the year 1885 was again married to Katherine Mead of New Hampshire, by which marriage he had two children, Harry M. Gates, now living at Milwaukee, and Helen M. Gates, the wife of Robert Bruce MacDonald, of Ladysmith, Wisconsin.


Mr. Gates’ second wife died in August, 1905, and she was also buried from the same residence where Mr. Gates was buried from.


Some years after the death of his second wife, Mr. Gates married Miss Anna Tischer of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who still survives him.


When quite a young man he for some years was engaged in making a livelihood by painting.


Capt. J.W. Tolford, the aged veteran, who kindly assisted in the direction of the services at his funeral, says of him that the first time he met Mr. Gates he was painting the side of a building, and he adds, that he put on plenty of paint, and he did it with a big brush.  And this was typical of the man; his ideas were for the larger things in this life, and not for the smaller, and perhaps if he had remained always a resident of Neillsville, instead of removing to Milwaukee, that the city of Neillsville would be much more advanced today, both in population and in prosperity.  Mr. Gates built the first brick block of buildings that was erected in Neillsville.  The block that now contains the Neillsville Bank, the Commercial State Bank and the Fair Store with offices overhead.


He installed the first electric lighting plant in Neillsville and illuminated the main street, at his own expense with light from electric arc lights.


He organized a banking institution that had its headquarters in the building where the post office now stands.  Indeed it was called the Neillsville Bank, although not incorporated, but it was the nucleus of what is now the Neillsville Bank, selling out to Judge Dewhurst and others, who formed the present corporation, all his rights and interests.


When railroad facilities were needed—and absolutely required at Neillsville—Mr. Gates was the one who organized the Black River Railroad Company, from Neillsville to Merrillan, now a part of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Ry., and spent his energy, time and money in bringing it to a successful conclusion.


Mr. Gates after his second marriage resided at his home at Neillsville, now the residence of Judge J.R. Sturdevant.


About twenty-three years ago he removed to Milwaukee, Wis., residing at 171 Prospect Avenue, at which home he died last Friday about 9:20 in the morning of heart trouble.


He became largely interested in wild and cut over lands in Northern Wisconsin and shortly after his removal to Milwaukee he organized a corporation, called the J.L. Gates Land Company, of which corporation he was its first President, and so continued to be until the time of his death.  His sons, Robert L. and Harry M., are also officers of the Company, the former being its Secretary and the latter, Assistant Secretary.


Mr. Gates was connected with many other enterprises of various kinds, but his chief delight was in the management of the Land Company that bore his name.


He was successful in all his business matters, and amassed considerable of a fortune.


In his personal relations it can be truly said of him, that he was a most kind and indulgent father and husband and a most dutiful, obedient and affectionate son.


Like all men in great activities he made a few enemies, but on the other hand this is counter-balanced by the thousands of warm friends he had.


The main funeral services were held at his residence in Milwaukee on Sunday last, Rev. Dr. Jenkins, pastor of the Emanuel Presbyterian Church of that city officiating.  His remains were brought to Neillsville early Monday morning, accompanied by his widow, his sons, his daughters-in-law and numerous friends and business associates.


Funeral services were also had at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. MacBride on Monday last at 2 p.m., Rev. Dr. Jenkins of Milwaukee, assisted by Rev. W.T. Hendren, conducting the services.  Rev. Mr. Hendren, it may be noted, was at the burial of the deceased father, also at the funeral of the late Nellie M. Gates, his sister.  He also officiated at the funerals of James Hewett, Emeline Hewett, his wife, and Mrs. Samuel Minor, who were respectfully the uncle and aunts of the deceased.


The pall bearers at Neillsville were Judge James O’Neill, Homer M. Root, W.L. Hemphill, August Snyder, Emery Bruley and Carl Stange.


The mother of the deceased, now more than eighty years old, was prevented by reason of her age and infirmities, from attending the funeral services.  The remains of her son was taken to her residence by her grandchildren and she was given an opportunity to take a last look at what to her was her favorite child.  She has the sympathy of all in this last affliction.  She must remember that while she is patiently awaiting the summons that comes to us all, that the ray of sunlight that kisses the graves of her husband, daughter and son, lying together in the beautiful cemetery on the hillside, that the same sunlight comes through her window in the early dawn, and gives to her a message of hope and cheer, from those gone before.  The message tells her that soon they will all be together in the bosom of Mother Earth, afterwards to be all re-united in a better land where pain an suffering are unknown.



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